Articles from December 2012



Characterization Exercise: What’s a Bad Day?

We’ve all had bad days. The trolley we needed to catch pulled out of the station just as the one we were on was pulling in, the food slips off our fork the one day we were wearing our nicest clothing… yeah. Not the kind of bad day that changes your life forever, just the [...]

The Generic Villain vs. Evil Overlord List Item #8

Yes, I’m still working through the Evil Overlord List. I imagine you have two questions right now: What happened to 6 and 7? And why is this only one item? The answer is simple: while the first five (and, for that matter, six and seven) fall easily into a paragraph or less, I found Item [...]

Impractical Applications (Putting Up a Rumor Cloud)

A while ago, my solo game called for a rumor cloud. The people who were talking were nameless NPCs all working at the same factory, and being eavesdropped on, so I really didn’t have to worry about whether or not Kiriko would trust her sources, nor what could go wrong in a conversation.
My main point: [...]

Wednesday Night Writing Exercises: Conclusions

For tonight’s exercise, I’d planned on doing a round of conclusions. At least, until I got stuck thinking a bit too hard about what sorts of statements to offer my boyfriend/current exercise partner. What got us un-stuck—and what probably works better for this exercise, since technically coming up with the prompt is the part that [...]

Condensing the Rumor Cloud

When you’re trying not to make your hints too obvious, or you want to give people a cross-section of what’s going on in a location, sometimes just one rumor isn’t going to do the job. Instead, you’ll want a rumor cloud: a set of rumors with varying levels of truth and relevance. I find the [...]

Dissecting a Rumor

I’ll be honest—when I first started writing this post, I’d been going to spell out steps for devising a single rumor. Then I realized it isn’t necessarily sequential; I, for one, start with the subject and message when I’m planning a rumor ahead, but a lot of the time I have to come up with [...]

Impractical Applications (Comparing Rumors)

I talked a bit about how rumors could come in handy in a game setting, assuming they’re handled right. They show up in my games, but not all the time—it’s been rather interesting to look at how important they are in which of the games I both run and play in.
Most of them show up [...]

Wednesday Night Writing Exercise: Short and to the Point

This week’s exercise is based on my old “In As Few Words….” exercise, creating a description of an image with as few words as possible. (Given the theme of brevity, I’ve elected to do just one.)
My prompt is this.
Lit from above, the cluster of mushrooms appears like a photo negative; their tops are absences of [...]

All Rumors Are What?

I talked a lot yesterday about how useful rumors as a narrative device can be, but they often run afoul of dubious execution. In particular, I find one treatment of rumors that, unless the whole point is not-so-subtle herding, drops a lot of what makes rumors useful: when the story falls under the description “All [...]

The Joys of Rumors

Whether they like them in the real world or not, when it comes to their own worlds, plot creators—writers, GMs, you name it—tend to love rumors. Why?
Rumors are everywhere. You don’t have to worry about justifying people maintaining such a perfect oral tradition that the one little poem that perfectly describes how to circumvent the [...]